May 25 2021 – Local Bluefin “Watching”
No Love from the Blue Tuna But Plenty of Yellowtail Tuna Fun
Oh, bluefin…… I don’t claim to be a bluefin tuna aficionado by any stretch but, I have at least spent enough days chasing them within our current local cycle to fully know the feeling of “bluefin being bluefin”. So before you read on, here’s your spoiler alert. This is not a tale or log of stacking the deck with tuna. Preface (borderline still slightly bitter rant) over.
For a myriad of reasons (largely the wind – which I’m sure we all want to give a collective “BD Salute” to), my days on the water have been slacking severely. So with another year of great signs of springtime bluefin and kelp paddy yellowtail, I’ve been very giddy to get out there. Even more so to be able to reconnect with good fishing buddies and getting the chance to fish with those who I’ve hoped to. So with a good weather forecast on tap, Ali, Dave, and none other than Ben Secrest (Accurate Fishing & industry vet) and I did the morning routine and set course for the tuna grounds.
Epic conditions indeed. After a little bit of “May Grey” burnt off, we buzzed down to the zone in no time, starting our day with some warm-up paddy fishing. It didn’t take long to find one with the goods, as I dumped a scoop of chum over and pitched a fired-up sardine under the paddy. Insta-bit. I wound tight on what was quickly recognizable as a good Yellowtail (not a tuna – I know) with a new Accurate Tern 500 + Valiant 8′ rod Ben brought along. That combo on proved lethal and the skunk was officially off the boat.
We proceeded to find a few more loaded kelp paddies with the whole crew getting in on the fun. Fish ranged from 4 lbs. little guys (all released) to fun grade 8-12 lbs. (most released with a couple nicer models taken for dinner). Once they were fired up, they were eager to chew live baits and surface irons alike. Although always so much fun and great eaters, that was not our primary mission.
As we pulled off the kelp and switched gears to big tuna mode – I peeked around the grounds in the gyros. Very quickly I spotted our target. A large bluefin breaching and marching straight towards us. Another. A breezer coming together in the distance. We readied the kite and deployed our California Flyer (aka Immortal Flyer) off the side as we slow motored through the zone. These fish looked to be mostly in the 100-150 class with a few proper jumbos (200+) mixed in. What we quickly realized, this group was fast-moving, extremely skittish, and to keep the story short – wanted nothing to do with baits.
From excitement to slight annoyance to frustration to downright baffled. We truly threw every trick in the book at them. Several shots with well presented baits (frozen flying fish or California Flyer) into the leading edge of breezers. Dropped directly into middle. Skipped through. Flat falls and sardines on fish finder marks. All to no avail on this particular group of fish. Relentless effort from Captain Ali setting up on the schools. Ben and I working the kite & bait in tandem. Dave in the tower glassing fish ALL day. They just did not want what we were offering and it wasn’t our day. “Bluefin being bluefin”. Unless you’re Duane Diego. Then you get bit and throw the first jumbo of the charter season on the new boat. Congrats Duane!
To be honest, I truly don’t mind days like this. Sure frustrating at times, but between a great group fishing together and the lessons learned in those off days, I’m more than happy to put in my dues. Plus its rad to see just how local these big fish can get! Trust us – they are A LOT closer than you might think. It’s going to be another one of those once in a hundred years season we are starting to grow accustomed to in this current cycle. But I don’t think many of us are complaining here in So-Cal and I’m certainly not taking it for granted!!
Get out there and fish! Jump on your favorite charter or sport boat and get in on the action. And don’t forget to tag us in your fishing adventures this weekend. We absolutely love to see your catches and share in on the action.
May 12 2020 – On Island Time
Fun Run – Impromptu afternoon session at the Nados
So I’ve clearly been slacking here… keeping up to date on the Trip Logs. My apologies. Well – after a hiatus in my diligence and return to the ocean post “Stay at Home” mandate to fight off the Corona Virus craziness – we’re back. And started out with an epically fun trip.
Weeks of virtual meetings and trying to navigate through a pandemic unseen in my (or really anyone’s) lifetime – the return to the Pacific was a reminder that the water is my solace. My morning started like most with 5:30 wake up call and jumping right into work for the day’s sales strategy presentation. But with an upcoming wind forecast and seeing amazing fish reports/posts – I had enough. It was time to get back on the water and do so keeping within the guidelines – with family.
We pushed off the dock at 1:30. Stopped for a scoop of bait. Lines in and fishing the islands by 2:20. We found clean green water and lots of life. It didn’t take long before we metered a nice school which we opted to throw some live baits on – and I hooked up quickly. Turned out to the right kind and a nice one to boot! Chase gaffed the quality Yellowtail and the search resumed! We slowed trolled live baits around the islands before setting up in our favorite spot. Pukey Point.
Sure enough – Pukey, was living up to its namesake as we rocked back and forth with baits in the water. About 5-8 minutes in, my sister Kaila was up and line peeled off her reel indicating another of the right kind. This one even meaner than the first and refusing to give in. After some back and forth – the Yellow’s instincts kicked in and it ran for “home” – the rock structure before. Kaila did a great jump of not letting it winning and keeping it out of the rocks as the rod bent to a full arch. Not long after – I lifted over a very good grade fish and took a quick photo-op with K’s personal best!
We wrapped up our quick half day with a search around South Island finding a killer Calico bass bite! We pointed home with 2 in the bag and smiles on our faces!!
Aug. 24 2019 – Yellowfin Ripper
It was a bad day to be a tuna. Or a beer.
Take this with a grain of salt as I only have a couple seasons of private boat fishing under my belt, but the end of August going into September is one of my favorite times to fish locally. Some of my best (at least numbers wise) days on the water have come during this time frame and with summer weather still in full swing, I try to log as many days as available. So myself, Chase and Scotty loaded up the tuna gear, cooler with frosty blue mountained Colorado Kool-aids, scoop and half of very lively sardines, and off we went.
Since we got a late start (9ish), we tried to take a detour and different path out to the tuna grounds in hope of find fertile kelp paddy grounds. Sure enough we struck gold, or Yellow in this case. We found paddy absolutely loaded with Yellowtail. The volume of fish was great however the grade was not mostly 3-6 lbs. little ones. After catching and releasing about 5 of the little guys in attempted to get the few bigger (12+ lbs.) mixed in, we moved on. Cool to see healthy populations but we were craving sushi.
As we approached the “parking lot” of sport boats and skiffs, we assessed how to avoid the shitshow. Sure enough, we found some surface activity well away from the crowds and headed over to investigate a solid group of boiling Yellowfin. We got a great setup next to them with them sliding into the side of the boat but this group didn’t want our baits. Oh well – good first signs of fish outside the cluster.
Well, it didn’t take long to find another solid school. This time below the surface as we saw solid meter marks at 30-40 feet. We set back a slow trolled sardine and almost immediately got picked up. Unfortunately, Chase was a bit “distracted” and after a long clicker run, we got tight only for a second before it broke off. So we circled back to find the school and sure enough, thick marks showed at 30-40 feet. We were on the meat. And we were lucky enough to find a school that wanted to die this day. We brailed a couple scoops of live baits for chum and it was GAME ON. We got a 2 hour ripper drift with steady double and triple hookups on nice grade Yellowfin.
I looked up from the chaos to notice we had a crowd around us. But this school stayed glued directly under our boat. After bagging 14 nice fish, we called in a buddy who was nearby and having a slow day. Honestly watching them slide in and immediately start bending, was the perfect way to call it a day. We jumped in for a quick Pacific rinse off, cracked “a few” beers and blasted home through slick glass conditions. Such a rad day with the fun time fishing crew!
Aug. 12 2019 – Mellow Yellow Day
Laid back local offshore trip with a surprise Elvis showing
Good buddy Juan (often referred to as hot hand Juan as he’s a phenomenal live bait fisherman) and I made a last minute call to run to some of the local zones in search of Yellowfin, Yellowtail and whatever other species may be on tap locally. A bit choppy and windy conditions but we pointed southwest and began our search.
Initially we chased birds further and further west of our original plan only to find an absurd amount of bait but no game fish. So back to the game-plan where we found 2 massive kelp patties in the zone with one other boat working. After a quick radio call over, we slow trolled over to work the other side of the patty. Sure enough our slow trolled sardine was picked up but broke off before landing. We made a few drifts for a couple yellowtail before other boats slid in and made things overcrowded. So southbound to find some of the other yellow kind, tuna.
We found the party boat fleet working both inside and outside of our route in the distance, so put the trollers back. After a few minutes, our cedar plug was bit and a nice 15ish lbs. Yellowfin tuna was on the deck. We shutdown and threw chum but the school never materialized nor could we find others. So for the sake of keeping it a laid back day we headed to the barn with a mixed bag of yellows.
The story doesn’t quite end there though. As we approached Point Loma, I wanted to slow down through a local zone as I heard of some late day surface biters the past few days. While we slowly motored over, we spotted the 2 unmistakable fins of the pinnacle gamefish (to most) that swims – a nice swordfish! We slowly approached and without any suitable baits to pitch at it, we slid right over top for a photo op. The big swordy allowed us to do this 4-5 times and even swam right up to the boat on one pass. He was definitely begging to be stuck or caught and after some talks of an ill-advised free gaff attempt – we let him swim to live another day. Really awesome cap to a nice mellow offshore day.
Aug. 4 2019 – First Heartbreaker
After a 3.5 hour battle, we suffered our first heartbreak of the season on a jumbo Bluefin
For those of us familiar, it goes without saying (but for the hell of it) – Bluefin Tuna fishing is not for the faint of heart. This is especially true with the jumbo, “Cow” grade fish that have swarmed our Southern California coast. These fish are big, mean, pull like a freight a train and just plain refuse to die. But the juice is always worth the squeeze for those who are willing to gamble and come prepared.
Chasing big Bluefin wasn’t our original plan but after a slow morning without any luck on the local bounty, we opted to make the long run up the line to the bluefin zone. We arrived in short order and switched over the gear to the heavy kite setups (luckily we brought with “just in case”) to drift the dead flying fish over a school, which has been the hot tactic of late. It didn’t take long before finding the fish, as we metered a nice school while searching the zone. So we decided to put up the kite and give it shot.
We dangled the flying fish on the surface off the side of the boat. The fish we marked never showed on the surface and after about 30-45 minutes of drifting the kite bait, we decided to continue our search. Thanks to our friends at Everingham Bait, we had a few nice mackerel mixed in the tank that I wanted to slow troll while looking for fish. We hooked a big mack on the 80lbs. live bait setup and sent it back far off the stern as we idled the grounds. Sure enough – it didn’t take long before our bait was picked up and the Talica reel was screaming. Max picked up, wound tight and we were on!
I decided to shut down and fight the fish from a drift. The reports were saying mixed grade of 80-100lbs. as well as monster 200-300lbs. cows. Initially, after its first screaming run I thought we were on the “smaller” of the two grades. Well, long story short – we were not. And I don’t think the fish even knew it was hooked until about 30 minutes in. Max fought the fish for 2 straight hours standing up with it and eventually reverting to the “rail” (gunnel in our case). Pretty steady back and forth until about an hour 45 in when it got straight up and down and refused to come up past 100 ft.
While in a good position in the corner, the fish darted to the other side of boat and to avoid potential prop problems, Max finally passed off the rod in order to get out and around motors. I’m impressed he lasted that long as I then fought it for what I was hoping was the final stage of the fight. I knew time was not on our side and each minute favors the fish. So I stayed on the rail and applied heavy, steady pressure to kill its will to fight. FINALLY, the fish was tired and started to come up. As it circled up we got first glance through the dirty water. No doubt we had a cow (200+) as Chase and Max readied the gaffs. I continued to work slow and steady before it happened – pop. The rod tip shot up and I felt the heavy pressure go slack. The 80lbs leader gave as we were FEET away from sticking the gaffs in.
All that for nothing. But that’s the name of the game and for me, what keeps me coming back just as much as the good days. We rode home in the dark, mostly in silence before getting back to the slip around 9:30. Definitely lessons learned to carry forward but that’s what this journey is all about!
July 19-21 2019 – Vamonos Mexico
South of the border shakedown trip – tough fishing, rough seas but all-time fun factor nonetheless
What better way to get familiar with the new boat than a 3 day weekend adventure down the Baja coast to Ensenada? Unfortunately we didn’t have luck finding the red hot fishing zones that the reports and intel from the week prior suggested. But despite tough fishing (for us) and rough seas thanks to strong winds, this trip will certainly not be one I’m soon to forget.
DAY 1: It is only appropriate that our first real trip in the new (to us) boat, include our family who have always encouraged, supported and taught us about fishing and adventure alike. We loaded our weekend provisions, made final preparations, and 4 of 7 of our crew pointed south Friday morning. We opted to take our time and fish our way down to our end destination, Hotel Y Marina Coral in Ensenada Mexico. A very brief pit stop at the Coronado Islands bared no fruit (in the form of Yellowtail) and revealed a full blown shitshow with what looked like a 50-80 boat parking lot. South bound and down.
We continued to fish south in some zones I was optimistic about. Like a few of my recent trips, we found em but struggled to hook em. That said, the volume of tuna was significantly lower than I hoped for with only one big breezer spotted that never really popped. Also, found several dry kelp paddies and one with Yellowtail that refused to bite. So time to motor to the marina and get situated.
We arrived to Marina Coral and greeted by their friendly staff that helped us get checked in for the weekend. We washed down the boat, moved the gear into a storage room and hit the bar to kick off the weekend! A quick stroll down the road and pitstop at a local brewery before making our way to Sano’s Steakhouse for dinner. The Ribeye is absolutely unreal and highly recommend if ever down in the area!
DAY 2/3: After spending the morning with customs (fun fun), we loaded up to head out to a zone that had been producing good numbers of Bluefin tuna. Unfortunately, Mother Nature and the winds had other plans for us. Long story short, we opted to spend the day in town after we attempting to battle through 20-25 knot winds. After a quick ass kicking on the run to Isla Todos Santos, beers and tacos sounded a lot more fun than getting soaked and pounded by waves.
We definitely made the right call and although the fishing wasn’t as planned, spending some quality time to enjoy the local downtown sites and eats made up for the poor sea conditions.
We left early on Sunday hoping to beat the wind but once we got to the outer waters, it was more of the same of Saturday. The water had been fully blown out and rolled over, dropping several degrees. We trolled through some zones finding nice sized but dry paddies. Ultimately, we pushed north trying to find wamer waters but the day had turned more into a beer drinking boat ride than anything else. All in all – it was a hell of way to break in Reel Lady and spend time with the family.
June 22 2019 – Yellowtail Shootout
Great times fishing with Team PaddyWhompus at the BD Outdoors Yellowtail Shootout
That time again and stoked to get the Team Paddywhompus crew together, with a couple new additions. Last year was our first time fishing the BD Outdoors Yellowtail shootout and we had an absolute blast! So there was no doubt we were fishing the tournament again but this year our game plan was going to be a little different. We opted to try our luck with an offshore program – paddy hopping in search of Yellowtail and then chase tuna in hopes to bring in the jackpot tuna.
Between being extremely “well-provisioned” and fishing 6 of us, we pushed off the Dana Landing dock in the Parker 2320 fully loaded and fully excited about the day ahead. Treated to stellar flat calm seas, we steamed out due west in hopes to take a different path from the crowds and look at some new water. Things to the northern boundary of our route was mostly lifeless but as we worked south/southwest, things started to pop. We started glassing some working bird schools and some very nice sized kelp paddies that we hoped were untouched because of the direction we took.
Sure enough, we did find the Yellowtail we were hoping for however it took A LOT to get them to bite a hooked bait. They were eager to jump on our chummed sardines but no love on any of the jigs or surface iron and very reluctant to bite the hooked sardines. However, Juan got the “smelly black creature” (aka skunk) off the boat with a nice 12 lbs. yellow to start us off. With visuals on fish and birds sticking to the paddies, we opted to grind it out and shoot for 2 more so that we had 3 Yellowtail to weigh for the shootout.
We ended up going 4/5 on Yellowtail with Juan (3) and Max (1) doing all the heavy lifting for the team. While paddy fishing yellows, we glassed working bird schools and A LOT of foaming and/or breezing tuna under. They were all up and down pretty quick and basically surrounding all sides of the boat. We had a couple shots at throwing poppers and jigs but weren’t able to hook up on any (with a couple misses on Trevor’s popper). We decided to change up our tactics and try to run and gun chase them down. Eventually after a few misses, Jerry hooked into a nice one. His 40 pound rig was nearly spooled before turning the fish’s head shortly followed by heartbreak. We missed our 1 real shot but that’s the name of the game with these hard charging tuna.
All in all, I think you would be hard pressed to find a team that had more fun Saturday than we did. Thanks BD Outdoors for hosting such a rad event and as a final side note – hats off to Los Bastardos for their class move of giving up the check and trophy for the tuna jackpot to the team that missed weigh-ins with a monster Bluefin. Such a rad act of sportsman and respect. They are the real winners in my book!
June 9 2019 – Bluefin or Bust (Bust)
Covered a lot of water to no avail for pelagics.
One thing is for certain – you can’t catch fish from the couch. I have found that sometimes I learn more from the slow days versus the wide open days. I try to use these trips as the ideal learning opportunities. Retrace my steps and compare to the reports of where fish were found. Analyze the decisions made in the moment and rerun them to evaluate for the next one. Some (or probably a vast majority) probably think this is insane, and to a degree they’re probably right. But this process is what fuels my progression and furthers the obsession into fishing.
So – here’s the quick rundown: my buddies Trevor, Juan and little brother Max and I all left out of big bay a little after 5AM, picked up some very nice sardines from our friends at Everingham and out to the kelp to make mackerel. Even the bait eluded us on this trip as we couldn’t get them to bite the sabiki to save our lives. No matter – time to head to the tuna grounds. Flew out to the spot in absolutely glass, lake-like conditions. Saw some good signs of life and kept chasing the warmer cleaner water out to the west. Found stunningly beautiful water, LOTS of dry/fishless kelp paddies, lost a couple of the Yellowtail (nicer grade) that did decide to bite and retreated to the Coronado Islands for a quick sunset session.
Overall, slow day of fishing with no tuna for us but saw a lot of promising signs for the season ahead. Max managed to catch a stud personal best Calico bass to start his summer (college break) in San Diego. Always a great day on the water with good friends and will make the next good day that much sweeter!
May 10/11 2019 – Local N Baja Bluefin
Day 1: Teamwork makes the Dreamwork!
After seeing a steady stream of pictures, reports and Instagram posts from the local fleet and friends – I was giddy to get my crack at some of the nice grade Bluefin running through our zones. I rallied a crew and grabbed one of the Freedom Boat Club Key West center consoles to go hunt down the elusive blues. I had gotten skunked the week before on a scouting trip when we zigged instead of zagged, missing the school by just a few miles. But we pushed back from the dock with a scoop of sardines and a few monster mackerel thanks to good buddy Trevor!
As soon as we left Mission Bay, we were greeted to a stiff South wind that slowed us down to a crawl. But we limped to the Coronados to take a quick peek around and see if could score a couple Yellows. Immediately we got dump on with a rain shower passing through. We slow trolled around some of the go-to spots and picked a few bites, landing 1 nice Yellowtail. The skunk was officially off the boat and knowing the ride was going to be a slow one, we headed out to the Bluefin zone.
Things started a bit slow before we started to see signs of life – birds casually scanning the waters, signs of some bait and eventually a few onesie/twosie meter marks of bigger fish. Enough to justify setting up a drift. We were surprised how few boats were working the area but confident in our plan and what we were seeing. We set back some fly line sardines on lighter (40-50 lbs gear with small hooks) and put out a HUGE mackerel under the kite with the heavy setup (130 lbs.). The one big sportboat that was working in the distance had shuffled to the west. Admittedly, it was tempting to give in and push west with the big sporty with superior sonar tech and bottomless chum bait. But a lesson recently learned from Captain Jamie (Season’s Sportfishing) – we wanted to wait it out a bit more as we had marked a few nice schools of big fish.
The wait paid dividends in short order as I looked out to our kite bait saw what you dream of – your bait and line racing the other direction. “We’re BIT!” as I frantically wound tight to the unmistakable weight of bluefin tuna. Initially, it was hard to tell just how big it was until I went to hand off the rod to Carter and prep everything for battle. To me, the absolute best part of the day was watching 14-year old Carter, who is already a die-hard fisherman, work the big bluefin on the heavy gear. Everything went right and I’m incredibly stoked at how well everyone on board worked together to ensure we landed this fish. With Carter on the stick and everyone focused on putting this one in the boat, we had a 138 lbs. (taped) Bluefin on the deck.
The moment felt borderline surreal and we were all on such a high. Such a beautiful fish and awesome moment as an angler. We took all took some pictures with the fish and prepped it for processing. This is one that will not be forgotten for a myriad of reasons. Very thankful and more obsessed with this sport than ever.
Day 2: The old “No bad days” cliche 100% true on the Sea
Back out for round 2 and hopeful to repeat what had happened just a short day ago. Juan was joining in for back to back days as we took a few pit stops before hitting the docks. One of, a dropoff to Five Star Fish Processing to ensure our catch was taken handled and cut professionally. One day I would love to process my own big tuna but being my first “real” one – thought it better to let the best of best take care of.
We met Chase at the docks and quickly set back out on the same course and plan as the day before. A quick look through the same zone to see if we could get really lucky and pick up another. Things looked similar but we never saw any signs of real fish. So we made the call to push west and take a look at new water. We launched the yummy flyer setup and pointed out, hoping to get lucky while making the move.
We didn’t end up getting any repeat luck from the bluefin but found some really nice kelp paddies absolutely loaded with Yellowtail. We stopped on a couple and pulled on a few small 5-6 lbs. fish for fun. All were released to grow another day. The rain from this morning and the day prior made for stunning visibilty along the coastline. We enjoyed some cervesas while taking in an epic sunset. Today ended up being more about enjoying time on the water with awesome company than stellar fishing. Nonetheless, it left us all eager to get back out there as soon as possible.
Apr. 14 2019 – Local Spring Yellows
Fun Day with a fun crew. Reconnecting with local waters
Finally things had lined up – good weather, no winds on a weekend. So time to call in an I owe you trip to some friends whose last time out got cut short due to a “leaky” boat. Well to keep the unfavorable streak going, this trip picked up where we left off but this time with the electronics. After nearly an hour trying and uncessfully troubleshooting the Simrad, we were going to be rolling blind and fishfinderless. Oh well – it was just nice to be on and getting reconnected with our local waters.
Luckily I had printed out the temp charts the night before and had Navionics on my phone to guide us so not all was lost. I knew I wanted to check out around the islands en route to the zone where the fishing had been good as of late. As we approached North Coronado Isalnd, we slowed down to survey. Nice clean water, plenty of birds around and just us and a couple other sportboats in the distant morning fog. Since we didn’t have sonar, I had the guys drop back a few sardines to to slow troll and see if we could locate any schools.
Lo and behold, we quickly found life first in the form of a jumbo bonito shortly followed by Aaron’s first Yellowtail. The skunk was off the boat and we opted to stick with slow trolling since it was drumming up a steady bite. We got a couple more on the boat and lost a few before setting up on solid school of fish. And it was game on. Chase dumped some live baits out for chum and everyone got their fly lined baits in the water. I threw a stickbait lure from the front and connected on first cast with a quility school grade Yellowtail, my first of 2019.
Unfortunately for me trying to capitalize on the action around us, I carelessly rushed to get my fish in the boat and as I grabbed the leader sunk the front treble hook in my palm. Luckily, it went out and through (vs. actually into deeper tissue) so using the highly sanitary bait knife, freed myself with only a minor flesh wound. We quickly reset on that school and managed to get 4 of 5 lines bit – “WE GOT QUADS”! Even better, is we were able to land all 4 fish.
The fishing settled down a bit and wind started to kick up more than anticipated. In an effort to cover more ground and not get tossed around in the wind chop, we switched over to trolling Rapalas. It took a bit but we were able to get doubles, away from the parking lot crowds around the islands. Now with 9 on the boat, we really wanted 1 more to make it an even 10 but after searching for another 45-60 minutes, decided to call it a day and head to the barn around 1.
I was stoked to enjoy some solid springtime Yellowtail fishing with a fun crew but even more stoked that we were able to get a couple guys first Yellowtail. No doubt they were fully hooked now and look forward to getting this group together again throughout the season!
Apr. 1 2019 – Fort Myers Permit Trip
Morning mission success with Capt. Chase Fulton
After spending a week in Sarasota for work, I decided to extend my trip and visit some family down in Marco Island. The weather had absolutely perfect all week and the weekend looked to be the same. So after being taunted by Captain Chase Fulton’s Instagram posts of seemingly bottomless Permit, I gave in and decided to sneak out for a Saturday morning strike mission.
Captain Chase picked me up at Sanibel Island and we pointed west to his Permit fishing honey hole. The seas were a bit bumpy but his dialed in 24′ bay boat handled them well and we made it there in good time. The current was moving pretty strong and we saw some good marks over his secret wreck spot but no takers to start. We stayed persistant and kept resetting and looking at different parts of the wreck to locate a school. Per usual, persistance paid off and I was bit on our first fish. A solid grade mid-high 20 inch Permit was landed and skunk was off the boat!
We stuck to the program and just as we predicted, the seas laid down and sun came out (which provided me with a really rad tanktop sunburn/tanline). After losing what felt like a really nice fish to the taxman (shark) – I redeemed myself on a monster 36-37″! These fish pull like a freight train and definetely an awesome pound for pound fight all the way to the boat. We managed a couple more, lost another to the sharks and called it day! We shot the shit on the way in and after spending the day with Chase, look forward to 100% fishing with him again in the near future!
Mar. 14 2019 – Local La Jolla 1/2 Day
Good to be on the Water but Slow Fishing.
It’s only fair that I share and log both the good AND the bad trips. Today we were treated to good weather (including an epic sunrise), good bait thanks to Everingham Bait Bros and good/flat seas to run up the coast. The fishing itself on the other hand, not so good and overall very slow outside of a couple nice Calico Bass and small Rockfish. En route from San Diego bay to La Jolla, we rolled through National Geographic-esque mackerel under birds. We snagged a couple macks to slow troll by dropping our jigs (1 surface iron & 1 100g Coltsniper) just a few feet under the surface.
Once we made it to our spot, we slowed trolled a few macks while we scouted the water. Cold, dirty and lifeless is ultimately what we found despite a pretty good outgoing current. We drifted a few different areas but no signs of our target species (“Homeguard Yellowtails & White Seabass). All in all, it was great to be on water and looking forward to logging some more days in our local waters this upcoming spring.
Feb. 23 2019 – Santa Cruz Island Trip
New grounds, New scenery, New techniques
Arguably my favorite aspect of fishing is exploring new zones, fishing with new friends and constantly learning new techniques. The requirement to constantly be progressing and learning is what truly drives me deeper into the sport. This trip was really a culmination of those factors.
I headed up to Ventura on Friday night to meet up with my buddy Garrett from Spankbank sportfishing who recently relocated up there. The plan was to get a decently early start, launch the boat and head over to scout one or maybe two of the local Channel Islands. We almost blew this plan up upon my arrival Friday night by having a little too much fun with drinking games and beverages until 2+ AM. Nevertheless, we got off the launch ramp around 8ish and pointed out towards Santa Cruz island.
To make our hangovers worse, we were treated to some very confused seas thanks to SE winds crossed over a NW swell. We made to the area we wanted to start at and got rigged up to do some bounce balling for halibut. The bait barge was out this morning so we only had the squid we brought prior to making bait. Neither of us has actually run this but Garrett dropped back his bounce ball rig tipped with fresh frozen squid on a hoochie skirt. No more than 15-20 minutes we got our first hit, the right kind but short fish. We quickly strung together a few more bites on short grades and Turbot (first time catching one) before finding what we came for. I was in the process of rigging up a second bounce ball setup and watched Garrett’s line get smacked, no doubt he was bit! Immediately he could tell it was a nicer fish that pulled drag a couple times but mostly came right to the boat before waking up. I stuck the gaff in him and pulled him inside. We were stoked and celebrated while the fish thrashed around the boat. Took the obligatory fishing pictures to be posted on the interwebs/social media and back to business.
Turns out that was the last bite of our day as the high tide hit slack and everything shut down besides some birds over bait (which we picked up a couple mackerels to try later). I screwed the pooch a little by not being more proactive and having my rig setup earlier to capitalize on what turned out to be a short bite window. Typically I’m ready to rock prior to getting to the zone but was slacking and unfamiliar so waited it out to see what the game plan was until it was too late. Oh well, lesson learned and still stoked to take the trip and scout new areas.
Getting a taste of exploring the Channel Islands and a new fishery has me giddy to get back up there and log some time/trips in this season. Stoked to have a buddy up there who is generous to offer up a place to crash and boat to fish. Thanks again Garrett for the hospitality and super excited to log some more islands trips this season!
Feb. 10 2019 – Local SD Lobster Hoop
Grinding through gear & weather
Got the call from my buddy Garrett with Spank Bank Sportfishing:
“Are you around tonight?” – 2:15PM Garrett
“What’s happening? Currently stuck furniture shopping – my nightmare haha. Yeah I”m open tonight – what’s up?” – Me
“Going lobster fishing. Gonna try to leave the dock by 4:45. Meet time 4:30”
I needed no further convincing, I was in. Ran home, grabbed some gear (although managed to forget to grab a bass stick – dumb), my lobster card, stuffed the Yeti with some leftover Coors light from a Mammoth trip last week, and headed down to Harbor Island to link up. Met up with Garrett, his girlfriend Allison, and two other buddies Ori and Jeff. Loaded up the gear, pushed back from our slip and started stuffing the bait cages as we cracked our first good luck beverages. In the bay, it was calm and sunny but you could tell it was a different story on the other side of Point Loma and some darker rain clouds hung just offshore. We dropped our first set, cracked a few more cold ones and tossed some artificials while the gear soaked.
The first set was mostly blanks with a few shorts. Not a huge surprise as it was slack low tide when we pulled so we knew it should get better. The weather had other plans however, as it started dumped rain on us while we pulled our next set or two. We joked this was as close to “Deadliest Catch” as San Diego gets. Jeff got things started with a few nice pulls on our first couple keepers mixed in with some shorts. We found a little spot to reshuffle our hoops to and kept grinding it out. Things slowly got better as the tide moved in and we let each set soak a little longer.
With the wind picking up and it being a “school night” with most of us having to work in the morning, we decided to call a Hail Mary. So we stacked all our gear and moved to a new spot we were hoping had better volume. Captain Garrett made the right call and after a long soak, we were on the crawl. Unfortunately, a majority were shorts but definitely a few really meaty keepers in the mix too. Had we committed another hour or two to hooping, no doubt our numbers would have been better. But with 10 nice sized bugs in the bag, we each were going home with 2 and happy to call it a night as the wind started really picking up. All in all, glad I got the call and got to fish with some new dudes I hope to get out with again. Always fun meeting new fishing friends plus the ultimate bonus of lobster dinner tomorrow night! – Jordan